NEWS

LAPD Wants to Exclusively Provide Security on Hollywood Sets

By Matthew Harwood

Here's an interesting story from the Los Angeles Times pitting sworn police officers against movie security officers—many of whom were once police officers themselves.

A coalition of labor and industry groups, including the Teamsters and the Motion Picture Assn. of America, is seeking to block the Los Angeles Police Department's effort that would force production companies to hire only off-duty active police officers to control crowds and direct traffic at film locations.

The so-called movie officers, who don official LAPD uniforms, sport badges and guns and frequently sit astride motorcycles that look like they cruised on "CHiPs," are ubiquitous on location sets around the city. Unknown to casual observers, however, most of them are no longer working police officers.

While they look like LAPD officers, the movie officers do not have official police powers and they must receive a work permit from the police department.

Police Chief William Bratton wants off-duty, active police officers for the job because he says movie officers are unaccountable to the police department.

The various interests in the movie industry, however, argue that by switching away from these officers, the LAPD plan will raise costs even more to produce films and TV shows in Hollywood. Over the past decade, production companies have began filming in other states and countries that are cheaper. Some locations even offer "lucrative" production rebates that aren't available in California.

Currently, it costs $50 an hour to hire a retired police officer or an off-duty, active LAPD officer to work on a movie or TV show set. If the LAPD establishes a monopoly and only off-duty, active LAPD officers are permitted to provide security, critical estimates suggest that price could rise to $80 an hour. The LAPD contests that estimate, however.

Hal DeJong, president of the Motion Picture Officers Association and a retired police officer, says the LAPD is trying to villify his organization that represents 150 members, 102 of whom are retired police officers. He told the Times "The cadre of officers who are out there are highly professional."

The Los Angeles City Council will be the ultimate arbiter of the whether the LAPD plan is implemented. A decision is expected by the end of the year.

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